Retrospect

December 31, 2019

 

Retrospect

 

1 Corinthians 11:31

For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

 

As a general rule I believe the Word of God discourages us from living in the past, but there are times when it is good for all of us to take stock of our lives, past, present and future.  Typically it is something we seem to think more about as we come to the end of one year and are beginning a new one.  That is when we think about making all of our resolutions, about what we are going to change and how we are going to be different than the year before.  It is good for all of us to occasionally take a good honest and introspective look at ourselves in the light of God’s Word and what we know to be truth.  As we shine that light upon hearts we may feel really convicted or condemned if there are areas that we are failing in and missing the mark or we may be little puffed up if we feel we are living an exemplary life.   The point of truly judging our hearts and lives is to take some bearings on where we are and where we are going.  When ship captains sail their ships they occasionally take bearings on their location and heading.  They don’t do it to determine if they are a good or a poor captain, but to keep their bearings and their heading correct.  Obviously, a bad captain would be one that never took stock of his heading or where he was going.  We can all get in that category of complacency where ‘we are doing most things right, so everything must be okay’.  That is usually the mindset we are in when we suddenly find out the ship is sinking and we hadn’t done anything to prevent it.  It is good that we take those times where we evaluate ourselves, both with our human relationships and heavenly ones.    Are we on course with God’s purpose and will in our lives?  Are we in right relationship with both God and man?  What do we need to do make those relationships right and better?  Are we continuing to press more into Christ with each day, listening and obeying the voice of the Spirit, meditating and conforming our hearts to the Word of God and setting our attention and affections upon the things above rather than the things below?  The Word says, “if we judge ourselves, we should not be judged”.   Isn’t it better when I can correct my actions rather than God needing to discipline and correct me?  We all can justify and rationalize a lot of things, but we all know that we aren’t going to snow God.  We may fool ourselves, but we aren’t going to fool Him.  We must use what He has given us to judge and evaluate ourselves.  I know it’s much easier to do that for others, but God’s more concerned about you seeing the changes that are needed in your life, regardless of where others are or what they are doing.  While we evaluate ourselves from our past and present we don’t live there or set up our camp there.  We know that we are sojourners in this earth and we are on a journey to spiritual Jerusalem.  Thus we live with our eyes always looking forward and hearts pressing onward into Him who has called us.  Everything else becomes secondary to that goal and purpose.  We must take care that we do not grow weary or complacent and build our home and our affections here in this place.  For we know that this place will perish with the using and we don’t wish to perish with it no matter how beautiful it looks today.

When we can come to that place where we can honestly judge in ourselves what we are doing right and what we need to make right then we can set our course.  We can begin to set actions that will help us to arrive at our desired port and accomplish the changes we need to make.  We are destined for a purpose and it is important that we stay on course to fulfilling our destiny and calling in Christ.  So I leave you with that oft quoted scripture from Philippians by the Apostle Paul in 3:7-15, “7But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Happy New Year!

Blessing!

#kent

 

Settle it Now within Your Hearts, whom You Will Serve

 

Joshua 24:14-18

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”

 

We are a people given to many affections and desires.  These are our idols rather than those shaped from wood, stone and precious metals.  “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Where is our conversation and attentions focused?  Is our predominant conversation about heavenly and spiritual topics?  Jesus says, “ where a man’s heart is, there will his treasures be also.”  Where are we storing up our treasures and our riches?  Every now and then we have to take stock of the mission statement of our life and if we are fulfilling it.  What would you define the purpose of your life to be and how with God’s enabling are you fulfilling it?  Are we still on course?  Someplace along the road of life we have come to this crossroads where we read that Joshua and the children of Israel now stand.  There is a choice to be made.  Hopefully, we, like Joshua and the people have made a decision, but more than a decision, a covenant.  In that covenant we said, “ As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” and like the people replied, we also stand in agreement with them when they say, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!”

Every now and then we have to run an accountability check on ourselves, because without even being fully aware of it we start to make the little compromises that begin to get us off course from our covenant and commitment with our God.  Our shift often time is not a radical one; maybe it is just a degree or two, but over the course of a long distance we can miss our destination and mark by a great deal.

Every morning we must look up into the eyes of our God and find His grace.  The reality is that we tend to stray and wander and become disconnected.  We get caught up in the world and those affections for the world that divert our attention from who we really are.  We cannot forget our identity.  Our identity is no longer with that man of the earth, even though we still walk in these earthen vessels.  Our identity is in Christ; that is who we are and that is what we are.  Our feet may still be in the earth, but our hearts and affections must be in the heavens.  We are the ones that bring heaven to earth and that are the ministers of reconciliation between God and man.  We are being formed in the image of our Father and renewed in the nature and character of His Son.  The Holy Spirit now orders our steps rather than the passions and will of our flesh.  We are the redeemed of the Lord and we must say so, live so and be so.  We are no longer what we used to be, for our calling and our vision is so much higher now.  ‘We have seen the Lord and He is high and lifted up and His train fills the temple.’  We are children of the Most High God.  We cannot forget who we are and the commitment we have made to Him that is faithful and true, our supplier, our redeemer and our mighty fortress.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  These earthly bodies in a few short years will perish with the using.  What do we have that is eternal except what has been birthed and lived out in the spirit?  All the other things that seem so important to us now will have no more significance other than the fact that they robbed us of life, spiritual treasure and purpose.

What is the mission statement today for our lives and are we still on track in living it out?  Everyday we must renew our commitment and vision, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  This is our covenant with our God who is faithful and is with us day by day.  We must not fail Him; for in doing so we fail ourselves.

Blessings,

#kent

Run at Your Enemy

December 27, 2019

 

Psalms 18:28-32

For thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall. [As for] God, his way [is] perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he [is] a buckler to all those that trust in him.  For who [is] God save the LORD? or who [is] a rock save our God? [It is] God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

 

Run at Your Enemy

 

There are times when we become fearful, beat down and afraid.  We simply want to coexist with our enemy and hopefully he will leave us alone.  The enemy is already winning the victory if he has gotten you in this place.  God hasn’t saved you for to be defeated and cast down before your enemies, He has called you to take courage, to put on the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of truth, the helmet of salvation.  Put on your running shoes prepared with the gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ.  It is not a time to cower but to rise up in the might of your God, built up in the truth and the authority of His Word.  He has called you forth to triumph and prevail just as He did with David when he faced Goliath.  Goliath was a bully, an intimidator who used fear as his primary weapon.  David was just a boy, but he was not given over to fear, as was the rest of Israel’s army.  He was not intimidated by this giant of a man.  He knew the might, the power and the authority of His God that was resident in him.  David didn’t rely upon the flesh to defeat his enemy.  His might and his power were not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.  It was the Spirit of God that rested upon David that enabled David to not only face his enemies, but to run out to meet them.  On the day that David faced Goliath he wasn’t crawling out to him, we wasn’t even walking out to him, he was running out to meet him.  Even though David was just a boy his confidence and faith must have even taken Goliath back a little.

1 Samuel 17:41-51 relates this familiar story, “41Goliath came toward David, walking behind the soldier who was carrying his shield. 42When Goliath saw that David was just a healthy, good-looking boy, he made fun of him. 43″Do you think I’m a dog?” Goliath asked. “Is that why you’ve come after me with a stick?” He cursed David in the name of the Philistine gods 44and shouted, “Come on! When I’m finished with you, I’ll feed you to the birds and wild animals!”

45David answered:

You’ve come out to fight me with a sword and a spear and a dagger. But I’ve come out to fight you in the name of the LORD All-Powerful. He is the God of Israel’s army, and you have insulted him too!

46Today the LORD will help me defeat you. I’ll knock you down and cut off your head, and I’ll feed the bodies of the other Philistine soldiers to the birds and wild animals. Then the whole world will know that Israel has a real God. 47Everybody here will see that the LORD doesn’t need swords or spears to save his people. The LORD always wins his battles, and he will help us defeat you.

48When Goliath started forward, David ran toward him. 49He put a rock in his sling and swung the sling around by its straps. When he let go of one strap, the rock flew out and hit Goliath on the forehead. It cracked his skull, and he fell facedown on the ground. 50David defeated Goliath with a sling and a rock. He killed him without even using a sword.

51David ran over and pulled out Goliath’s sword. Then he used it to cut off Goliath’s head.”

Maybe today is your day to become fed up with the enemies’ defiance of the living God in your life.  Today could be your day to rise up in the authority of Christ Jesus and say I am not going to take it any more and with faith in your heart run out to meet your enemy, no longer in your strength and confidence, but in His.  Christ has empowered us to rule, reign and have authority over our enemy.  It is the day to rise out of our shame and our defeat, put on the whole armor of God in Christ Jesus and run out to meet the adversary.  Our victory is in the Lord and by the power of His might and authority within us we can run through a troop and run over the walls of our opposition.

Blessings

#kent

This Day

December 26, 2019

Psalms 118:24

This [is] the day [which] the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

 

This Day

 

This morning when the alarm clock went off or you woke up and rolled out of bed, did you do it murmuring and begrudgingly or with a “Thank you Jesus for another great day with you?”  The attitude and spirit with which we start our day often determines our outlook and the mood we are in.  I’m sure we all remember with others in our household or ourselves, many times that we have resentfully gotten up in the morning full of bad attitudes and negativism.  Wasn’t that a delight?

When I used to go into work the standard greeting was, “Hi, so and so, how’s it going?”  Invariably you would hear back murmuring and complaining about having to come to work.   I decided I wanted to look at my day with a little more positive attitude than that.  When people would ask me, “How’s it going.”  I would reply with a smile and enthusiasm.  “It’s just another great day!  It’s great to be back isn’t it?”  I found that in that attitude, I not only encouraged myself, but I encouraged them to view their job from a different perspective.

Everyday should be a new adventure in God, a new opportunity to succeed at what we maybe failed at yesterday, another opportunity to love and appreciate the people that God has placed us with.  In our daily routines we tend to lose our freshness, our spontaneity and our zest for life.  Lamentations 3:32-36 exhorts us this way, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, or his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; herefore I will wait for him.” 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”

God is so good to every one of us.  Even in our times of trials and testing, He is with us and He sustains us.  He is so worthy of our continual praise, adoration and thanksgiving.  Try starting your day out from the moment you awaken, praising and thanking Him for His goodness.  You are going to find your day a lot brighter and your attitude much better.

Blessings,

#kent

Celebrate Life

December 24, 2019

 

Celebrate Life

 

Psalms 5:11

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

 

If ever a people had reason to celebrate and be joyful, it is the people of God.  Who is blessed like us in all of the earth?  Who else are the recipients of such great promises as given in 2 Peter 1:4, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  Who else has been called to be joint-heirs with Christ and to be seated with Him in heavenly places at the right hand of the Father?  Who else has had the Lord of the universe come and give His life a ransom for our sins that we might be partakers of His life and kingdom, that we might have fellowship and unity with the Creator of all.  All that we have is by the goodness of His Hand and all that we are is by His grace and sufficiency that works in us.

This morning as I was reading 1Chronicles 29 about how the house of God was a labor of love for David.  He laid up tremendous wealth in materials to build the house of God.  It says in verses 2 and 3, “Now I have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for [things to be made] of gold, and the silver for [things] of silver, and the brass for [things] of brass, the iron for [things] of iron, and wood for [things] of wood; onyx stones, and [stones] to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, [which] I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house.”  David has made it his joy and purpose to bless the Lord back with the abundance that the Lord has blessed Him with.  This joy in giving and in blessing God through the preparation of building His temple is contagious even among the people.  Verses 6-9 shows us how this became also the heart of the people, “Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. And they with whom [precious] stones were found gave [them] to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”  These people had laid hold of the joy of giving unto the Lord and they were making a celebration out of it.  And why did they want to give so much to the Lord?  They gave, because they acknowledged and appreciated how much the Lord had given unto them.

Listen and read how David then blesses the Lord at this time, “Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed [be] thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, [is] the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all [that is] in the heaven and in the earth [is thine]; thine [is] the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour [come] of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand [is] power and might; and in thine hand [it is] to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who [am] I, and what [is] my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things [come] of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. For we [are] strangers before thee, and sojourners, as [were] all our fathers: our days on the earth [are] as a shadow, and [there is] none abiding. O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name [cometh] of thine hand, and [is] all thine own. I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee. O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee.”

This was also the time of  Solomon’s coronation when David handed over the kingdom to him and the great task of building the temple.  Isn’t it interesting to note that in this great giving from a right heart and attitude of the people that Israel never prospered more greatly in its history than it did at this time?  Wasn’t it because the leadership and the congregation of the people all had a heart of thanksgiving and appreciation for all that God had done?  It says of Solomon in verse 25, “And the LORD magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him [such] royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel.”  We know that we can never out-give God, but isn’t it wonderful that we can give something back to a God that has blesses us so.

The Lord has committed the task of building the house of God into the hands of the church.  We should know that we only labor in vain if we are building after the flesh and not after the Spirit.  For we are the workmen and the instruments of God for the building up of His house to the glory and honor of His great name.  What a privilege and honor to know and serve Christ.  We have great reason today to celebrate.  May we always have the heart to bless Him as He has blessed us through uprightness of heart and willingness to give.

Blessings,

#kent

Luke 18:15-17

People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

 

Take the Time to Teach the Children

 

Last night I had the wonderful experience of having my little four-year-old granddaughter come to me and say, “Grandpa, I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”  What a blessing and privilege to kneel down with her and lead her in that prayer of salvation and trust in Jesus.

We often share with the grandkids when they come over.  We will often share the Word with them or tell them stories about the things the Lord has done in our lives and in others.  What sparked this particular moment with my granddaughter was the day before when something was said in passing about Jesus and she said that Jesus was in her heart.  Now that is how I’ve always taught all of my kids and grandkids, but I ask her if she knew how Jesus came to be in her heart and she didn’t really know and as I stopped the chores that I was doing and set down with her outside to talk, I realized she really didn’t have a grasp of who Jesus was and what God was about.  I simply began to tell about the God of all of creation and His Son Jesus.  I told her a little bit about creation, God creating man, the fall of man and the entrance of sin into our lives.  Then I told her about how God in His love, sent His only Son to take the punishment of that sin for us so that if we believed in Him we had forgiveness of our sins and Jesus would come to live in our hearts.  I told her then that when she got ready, I would help her if she wanted to pray and ask Jesus into her heart.  Apparently, that time with her had an impact because the next day when she came over for supper is when she had made that decision.

I say that to say this.  Far too many times I have been too busy with my agenda and what was important to me to take the time to really minister and meet the needs of the children and grandchildren.  When we miss these opportunities, we miss the heart of God.  The kingdom of God is found in the simple trust and faith of a child.  They can often embrace the powerful truths that adults stumble and falter over.  They live in a place of trust and reliance upon their parents to provide for them, protect them, love them and care for them.  They know that place of simple faith and trust much better than those of us that have grown up to be self-reliant and skeptical of everything.

Deuteronomy 11:19-21 tells us, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”  Are the Lord and the things of the Lord, the conversation of our home, our family, our children and grandchildren?  Is He the foremost topic of our lives?  We must take the time to plant often into our children and grandchildren.  We are God’s legacy to them and they must be taught that they also are responsible for instilling the things of the Lord in their children and grandchildren. The devourer is all around seeking to rob, steal and destroy that precious seed.  If our nation is to survive then we know that its foundation rests upon the family and the principles of God in our lives.  When these are lost, then so is our nation.  We can not afford to be negligent when it comes to faithfully imparting Christ to others.

My little granddaughter has a twelve-year-old sister, which I also had the privilege of praying with some year’s back.  She is at that age when her peers and the world around her are becoming increasingly more important.  Before they left, I encouraged her older sister to be faithful to read her stories, pray with her and teach her the things that had been taught to her.  We all have that responsibility to one another to help each other to know the Lord and to grow in the faith that our days may be many in the land.

Blessings,

#kent

Amber Alert

December 20, 2019

Amber Alert

 

Mark 10:14

But when Jesus saw [it], he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 

                We have instituted a wonderful system in this country, so that when a child is abducted or kidnapped or lost, announcements are made everywhere concerning their situation.  Information is gathered and distributed to allow people to be on the look out for the things that might identify this child or their abductor.  It is wonderful how there is information, coordination and cooperation on a wide and often national scale to recover our little children.

                If we were to look at this from a spiritual perspective for a moment, many of us recognize that there has been a mass abduction our children spiritually, mentally and morally.  We need a spiritual Amber Alert to awaken us to the fact that our society is being taken spiritual captive and it starts with our children.  Most of us realize the need to monitor the television that they watch, because it can be a strong instrument and influence to ungodly and wrong thinking.   We see agendas being promoted every day that have messages coming through every venue possible to dumb us down spiritually and morally to lifestyles and that are contrary to Biblical principles and values.  The innocent and inquisitive mind of a child is the most susceptible to the influence and the persuasion of the enemy.  Especially if we as parents and adults become careless and complacent concerning our duties to protect them and give them right values. 

                Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:

 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”  This exhortation still stands for us today.  It is so easy in our busy society and the demands of life to allow our children to go unguarded and unprotected simply from the lack of instruction and the influence we can have in their lives.  It is not practical to isolate our kids and keep them from any physical contact with the world.  We can’t practically do that even for ourselves, nor is that God’s intent.  He wants us to be lights in our world.  We must start by lighting a candle in our children, instructing them daily in the Word, and continually talking about the things of God and the goodness of God.  Don’t fall into the trap of using God and His Word like a big stick to threaten, condemn and coerce our children when they sin.  Let them know it is the sin that brings consequences for wrong actions and leads to our hurt.   Instruct them in who they are in Christ and help them daily to grow in a personal relationship with Him as we pray with them and teach them the Word.  Discuss with them these attitudes of the world they are hearing and give them sound Biblical principles as to why they are wrong and the consequences of what they bring. 

                We must have a spiritual Amber Alert sounding right now.  It has to start with us as adults recognizing and addressing the very real attacks and abductions that are taking place with our children everyday in all of the areas that influence them.  Their protection is in bringing them to Jesus and having them sit at His feet.  Instill that Word and the love of God in their hearts daily.  We must be their covering and protection through the influence we have over them.  If we don’t influence them, then we better know that someone else will.  1 Peter 5:8 says,”Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” Our children’s young innocent minds are prime targets for spiritual influences of darkness.  As parents, grandparents and adults that have influence in children’s lives, we must be the spiritual guardians of their souls and the protectors of their little spirits.  We want to wake up to the Amber Alert of the Spirit and take action to preserve and instruct our children in righteousness and the ways of Life. 

Blessings,

#kent

Time to Get Back to Work

December 19, 2019

 

 

Time to Get Back to Work

 

1 Kings 19:9-18

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

 

The scripture today is an account of where Elijah’s state of being is at after his showdown with the prophets of Baal and the great victory that was won when the Lord showed up and manifested Himself to be God.  The wicked queen Jezebel has threatened to take Elijah’s life and suddenly he has turned from being this mighty representative of the power of God to a fearful and fleeing man.  Even though fear has gripped him the Lord has not forsaken him and continues to sustain him as he flees the retribution of Jezebel.  This is where we find Elijah.  Elijah has so despaired and become discouraged that He has even ask the Lord to take his life.  The Lord gives him food and water by the hand of His angel, which sustains him for forty days and forty nights while he travels and comes to the mountain of God on Mount Horeb.  This is where we find him now as the Lord begins to speak and deal with him.  Here we find Elijah having a bit of a pity party as he tells God how he is the only one left that is serving God and now they are trying to kill him also.   At this point God is about to teach Elijah a lesson as He tells Elijah to go and stand on the mountain for the Lord is about to pass by.  We then read the account of how three powerful manifestations of wind, earthquake and fire come, but the Lord is not in any of these powerful demonstrations and after these came a gentle whisper, a still small voice.  What did the voice say to Elijah?  “What are you doing here Elijah?”  Of course, Elijah proceeds to tell the Lord how he is the only good guy left and how now they are trying to kill him too.

The Lord doesn’t even address Elijah’s concerns at first, instead He gives him his next three job assignments and then He lets Elijah know that there are still seven thousand that have not bowed to Baal.

There are a number of lessons to be gleaned from this. The one that I think is closest to all of us is that no matter how close we are walking with God and experiencing His power and presence sometimes we fall back into the trap of identifying with our natural man rather than who we are in Christ.  In Galatians 2:20 the apostle Paul reminds us of who we now are, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  This is who Elijah was, but fear entered in and faith left him because he lost sight of who he was and his identity in God.  We can easily look at Elijah’s life in hindsight and see that no one was going to take Elijah’s life unless God allowed them too.  We can see that for Elijah, but we struggle with believing that for ourselves.  We get so caught up with all our woes that we get off track with our purpose and destiny.

I believe what God was showing Elijah through those powerful manifestations is, that these are not the essence of who He is.  We may see great and mighty miracles, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that God is in them.  Where was God?  He was in the still small voice in Elijah’s spirit.  That is where He is in us.  It wasn’t Elijah’s concern, nor is it ours, to question the power that God demonstrates through us, or His provision or His protection.  Our primary concern is, are we walking in who we are in Christ?  Are we identified with Him rather than this old man?  Are we carrying out the tasks that He has given each one of us to do?  We don’t need to worry about us being the only one, because God will always preserve a remnant for Himself, no matter how outwardly bad things get.

Fear had driven Elijah to the mountain, but by God giving Elijah his assignments He was saying to Elijah, “don’t fear what man can do to you, you are not through until I say that you are through.”  God has a purpose for each one of us in Christ and I don’t believe we are through until God says we are through.

Now it is time to get back to work with the Father’s business and don’t forget who you are.  “You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus”.  ‘You can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth you,’ “because as he is, so are we in this world.”   “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Blessings,

#kent

Resurrection Life

December 18, 2019

 

Resurrection Life

 

John 11:25

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

 

Resurrection means a rising up as from a seat.  In this scripture Jesus communicates to Martha that the resurrection isn’t just an event for a future date in history.  Resurrection is the Spirit of Life and it is resident in the person of Jesus Christ.  Romans 8:1-2 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”  Those who are in Christ Jesus walking according to the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, are walking also in the principle of resurrection life.  The other part of that is that we are no longer walking in the principles and laws of sin and death.   They are rising up out of death into Life.  As faith is the inverse of fear and unbelief, so resurrection life is the inverse of death.  It is that which rises up and unseats death.  We see this truth in Romans 8:10-11,

“And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

Even now are we experiencing resurrection life in us as we are being transformed from death to life in Christ Jesus.   There is a spiritual principle of life at work in us that is powerful and life giving.  It is greater than death itself.  Death obviously is still having it’s time and place even among the most spiritual of men, but under the direction of the Almighty even the powerful enemy of death must bow to the resurrection life of Christ.  Even death could not hold Him in the grave.  The destiny of our walk is to know death to that man of sin in our former nature.  That death to self is bringing us into the resurrection life of Christ Jesus.  Hebrews 2:14 says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”  We see then that power of death is held in the devil’s hands.  Jesus dealt satan a deathblow at the cross through His death.   What we must grasp is through that principle of death to sin and self there arises the Spirit of Life.  The crushed grapes yield the wine.  The seed that is planted and dies, gives way to the life within in it.  What Christ has done as the head, He will accomplish through the body.  In Philippians 3:10-11 the apostle Paul declares, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (or more literally, “out of the dead”).” Christ is at work in us today to deliver us out of the power of sin and death that still is at work in our mortal bodies.  He is the Life Force within us.  The fellowship with His sufferings and the identification with His death are made more and more real to us the closer we walk with Him.  But the death that works in us is giving place to life, His resurrection life that is also at work in us.  It has the power to quicken and give life even to our mortal bodies.   We see it in a measure now, but soon without measure in those who are the partakers of the first resurrection.  In that first resurrection are those who rule and reign in Christ.  Revelations 20:6 says, “Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” As Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”    Pursue and lay hold of His Resurrection Life.

Blessings,

#kent

Lord, You Mean Everything

December 17, 2019

 

Lord, You Mean Everything

 

Philippians 3:7-14

Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

 

What is our level of commitment today in our walk with the Lord?  What does He really mean to us in terms of our life plan, our goals and where we are going and what we hope to accomplish?  In the above scripture we are seeing Paul lay out his mission statement and his life plan before us.  Does ours sound anything like that?  Paul says in the next verses 15 and16,  “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”  He says if you want to be perfect then try this goal on for size.  Even in all that Paul had committed of his life to the service of the Lord and even through all that he endured he didn’t say I’m there yet,” but I’m running with all my might.”  He lost all affections for the things of this world.  He was spiritually minded and heavenly visioned.   He so desired to experience the depths and the riches that Christ alone could provide, everything else paled in comparison.  I believe Paul wanted to so identify with Christ that in the sharing and partaking of the sufferings of Christ and the conformity to His death, he might experience and lay hold of the resurrection life.  That resurrection life was so much more than just dying, going to heaven and experiencing the resurrection at the Second Coming of Christ.  He desired to experience the resurrection out of the dead things of this life.  What holds us back from experiencing the fullness of life right now if it is not the death that works in us? And what is the power of death if it is not sin.   The resurrection out of the dead is the resurrection out of the sin and death that works in our members.

Paul says in Romans 8:10-11, “And if Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the Spirit [is] life because of righteousness, But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” We may live in the natural realm and as such, so much of our energy, thinking and identification is with the things of this world.  I believe Paul was saying turn around from the world and look at who you are in Christ.  Look what He has provided for us and where He wants to take us.  ‘The things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.’  Paul is telling us here in Romans 8 that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you and I.  What is the implication of what He is saying?  If we are dead to the flesh, then there is Spirit Power of Resurrection Life at work in us to raise us up in the power of His life.  I believe Paul ran and lived his life to lay hold of that resurrection power and life even in his natural life.  If he didn’t fully realize it then he carried and ran with that vision right into heaven and into the arms of Jesus.  There is a high calling of life and power in Christ that we should yearn and long for.  So many of us complacently wait for heaven as the end in itself.  Paul wasn’t running that hard just to get to heaven.  He had a greater vision and higher calling; he pressed for the high calling that is in Christ Jesus.  Again, in Romans 8:19-23 I believe he gives some insight to this calling, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only [they], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body.”  The first fruit partakers of this liberty and redemption from corruption will be the administrators of its glory and life to creation.  There is coming a day of restoration when all of creation is going to be set free from the bondage of sin and corruption.  We who are in Christ should be travailing and groaning within to be free from the bondage of this natural man that we may experience the coming and the presence of Christ within us.  Don’t let the realm that we live in now hinder the vision of what you are becoming and living your life for.  If we truly live in Spirit life, the natural body and life just facilitates that in this earth, but we should already be living in the light of God’s eternal plan and not just our natural life span.  The implications and fruit of how we live our lives carries on into eternity.  As many as are perfect or spiritually minded want to catch the vision of God’s highest for us.

In conclusion Paul gives us gravity by saying, don’t look behind you at what you have or haven’t been.  Don’t live in past condemnation or victories, but look ahead at what is before you.  Set your eyes on Christ and the high calling that is in Him nevertheless wherever it is that you have thus far attained be faithful to walk in the light of the truth that you have and understand the high calling that Christ has called you too.

Blessings,

#kent

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